I remember Roots as an amazing television event. But Fred Silverman and other ABC executives had serious reservations about broadcasting the miniseries back in 1977.
Convinced that "Roots" would be a ratings disaster at best and, at worst, might inflame blacks and start riots across the country, the ABC chieftain decided to run off the entire program over one week ... to get it out of the way before sweeps began.
"We were terrified when we put it on the air," says Brandon Stoddard, then the ABC executive most directly involved in the miniseries. Stoddard says some Southern states would not even show the program for fear of inciting riots. [Link]